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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 18:34 GMT
Livingstone's threat over Tube documents
London Underground tube
Tube PPP is again under the spotlight
London Mayor Ken Livingstone and his transport commissioner Bob Kiley have threatened legal action in their latest effort to block the government's plans to partly privatise the London Underground.

Letters have been sent to Transport Secretary Stephen Byers warning they will seek a judicial review if vital documents concerning the Public Private Partnership (PPP) are not handed over by 1630 GMT on Friday.

They are accusing London Regional Transport (LRT) of withholding information needed to assess the scheme before control is transferred.

A Transport for London spokeswoman said: "This information goes to the heart of the value for money and risk transfer to the private sector that the deal is supposed to be based upon."

Ken Livingstone
Livingstone sent 'strongly worded' letter

The deadline was announced after a "strongly-worded letter" sent to Sir Malcolm Bates, LRT's chairman, went unheeded, according to Mr Livingstone.

The letter from Mr Livingstone to Mr Byers reads: "We are forced to conclude that either the material is, for some reason, being deliberately concealed from us or worse, that it does not exist and the PPP contracts remain under negotiation with the bidders.

"If the material is being withheld from Bob and his team, I have to ask what it is that LRT is concerned about us knowing about these crucial issues."

Legal obligation

A Transport Department spokesman said they had only just received the letter and were still reviewing it.

London Underground insists it has not withheld any information.

A spokesman said: "We are abiding by our legal obligation to consult with the Mayor - as far as we are concerned we are in that period now.

"We had faith in our processes last year when we entered PPP negotiations and we retain that faith now."

Transport Secretary Stephen Byers
Byers has given the go-ahead for PPP

Three weeks ago Mr Byers announced the government was pressing ahead with the 16bn investment plan despite concerns over safety and fears of a repeat of the problems with Railtrack.

Under the PPP the Tube will be split into four main sections.

Two private consortiums, Metronet and Tube Lines Group, will be responsible for the maintenance and upgrading of the trains, lines and infrastructure under 30-year contracts.

The running of trains and operation of signals will remain under public control.

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See also:

28 Feb 02 | England
Tube strikes called off
17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
London transport guru sacked
06 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tube boss gives new safety warning
06 Jul 01 | Business
Tube reforms to go ahead
03 May 01 | Facts
The London Underground
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